aspiring to crateness: diy vintage toy crate

Pinterest, a pinboard-style social photo sharing website, only made my domestically challenged yet highly ambitious side come out more.

I have gotten to the point where I look at every Costco box, coffee filter, used pickle jar or old T-shirt and think, “What can I make out of this?”

My new rush of do-it-yourself confidence has made for many cart-before-the-horse scenarios. The pillowcase dress looked easy, but meant I had to learn to sew; the cake pops looked yummy, but meant I had to learn to bake; and this project meant I had to use power tools — for the first time.

It all started when I was pulling out of the Costco parking lot with a trunk full of goodies. I passed a stack of worn-out wood pallets with a hot pink spray-painted “free” label on it.

I drove past it until my new Pinterest persona barked for me to turn around: “I could use those for something!”

So, there I was, off a busy road, high heels and all, trying to lift these dirty, heavy wood pallets into the back of my diaper- and dog-food-loaded SUV.

Later that evening, not only was my husband questioning the pile of pallets, but he looked at me like, “You have got to be kidding,” when I told him I wanted to make a toy crate out of them. I added that he would need to instruct me in using his tools, including his precious chop saw.

A few project days later, my husband’s patience was still intact, no tools were broken and a vintage toy crate was born.

I was left with a few splinters, broken nails and even more confidence, which then prompted me to tackle the sewing machine. Honestly, the chop saw was easier.

The project was moderately simple with the coaching of my husband and cost less than $10.

Ladies, if I can do it, you can do it; husbands, forgive me if I just motivated your wives to touch your tools.

♥  ♥  ♥

How-To Vintage Toy Crate

Need: reclaimed wood pallets, pry bar, measuring tape, pencil, hammer, drill and bits, nails, screws, chop saw,

random orbital sander, wood glue, four caster wheels; stencil, paint or Sharpie pen

Wood Materials:


4 full-dimension 2-by-4-inch boards, 24 inches long

2 full-dimension 2-by-4-inch boards, 16 inches long


6 1-by-4-inch boards, 24 inches long (sizes will vary depending on pallet)


2 1-by-6-inch boards, approximately 16 inches long (adjust length to fit inside side boards)

2 1-by-4-inch boards, approximately 16 inches long (adjust length to fit inside side boards)

Internal Frame

4 1-by-1-inch boards, 18 inches long

Step 1: Using a pry bar and hammer, dismantle pallet and remove nails

Step 2: Cut all boards. Measurements may vary depending on the pallet and size of crate wanted. Sand boards to reduce rough edges.

Step 3: Lay out the base. Pre-drill holes in cross-members, followed by adding screws.

Step 4: Using your internal frame, build a box by nailing two frame boards to each side, inset the width of the end boards (not flush against the end of the side boards). Use wood glue for extra hold.

Step 5: Nail end boards to internal frame and sides. Use wood glue for extra hold.

Step 6: Attach box to base by pre-drilling holes, followed by adding screws.

Step 7: Mark bottom of the base for caster wheels. Pre-drill holes, followed by screwing in caster wheels.

Step 8: Sand and wipe down cart. Add text with stencil and paint (or a Sharpie for a faded look).

The box makes a creative, unique and thoughtful gift for a friend's baby shower (as I did).


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